Ken Paxton Is Re-elected Texas Attorney General
by Daniel Tovar
On election night, Ken Paxton was running to reclaim his seat as the state’s top lawman.
By his own admission, Paxton was lucky. He had managed to win reelection after an open convention, despite the fact that he was a man whose political opponents, a combination of wealthy conservatives and establishment Democrats, had packed ballot access with more than 20,000 signatures. By the state’s election rules, this should have been enough to elect Paxton.
This shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone familiar with the way Texas elects its state legislators.
Under Texas law, every elector has the right to ask a candidate how they intend to vote in a statewide election. If the candidate chooses not to respond, the elector cannot force a vote but is allowed to write to the candidate and ask them to take specific action.
This is where Paxton’s luck got him. Paxton was not a “yes” man. He was one of the most outspoken critics of the state’s redistricting process, and has fought in court to defend voters’ right to petition their elected officials on a statewide scale. His open letter opposing the redistricting process is widely considered the best explanation of how the state’s redistricting process is flawed, and a key document in his campaign.
And it’s not just conservatives who have been active on this front. Paxton was one of the few lawmakers who had the courage to refuse the support of the Texas Chamber of Commerce, one of the biggest state campaign donors, and publicly challenged them when their influence over redistricting was in question. He was also one of the earliest advocates for requiring a statewide referendum on the issue.
The election results were even more surprising and eye-opening than the legal victory.
Paxton won by a mere 9,000 votes.
In what seems to be a trend in the Texas Legislature—one of the things that makes this state so different from most others—Paxton was the only member of the legislature to lose his re-election bid against a Democrat in Texas.
If this trend continues, it may be the Texas legislature ends up with very few Republicans and very few Democrats in the future.
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